Identification of chlorinated solvents degradation zones in clay till by high resolution chemical, microbial and compound specific isotope analysis

Ida Damgaard, Poul L. Bjerg, Jacob Bælum, Charlotte Scheutz, Daniel Hunkeler, Carsten S. Jacobsen, Nina Tuxen, Mette M. Broholm

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58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The degradation of chlorinated ethenes and ethanes in clay till was investigated at a contaminated site (Vadsby, Denmark) by high resolution sampling of intact cores combined with groundwater sampling. Over decades of contamination, bioactive zones with degradation of trichloroethene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA) to 1,2-cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) and 1,1-dichloroethane, respectively, had developed in most of the clay till matrix. Dehalobacter dominated over Dehalococcoides (Dhc) in the clay till matrix corresponding with stagnation of sequential dechlorination at cis-DCE. Sporadically distributed bioactive zones with partial degradation to ethene were identified in the clay till matrix (thickness from 0.10 to 0.22 m). In one sub-section profile the presence of Dhc with the vcrA gene supported the occurrence of degradation of cis-DCE and VC, and in another enriched δ 13C for TCE, cis-DCE and VC documented degradation. Highly enriched δ 13C for 1,1,1-TCA (25‰) and cis-DCE (- 4‰) suggested the occurrence of abiotic degradation in a third sub-section profile. Due to fine scale heterogeneity the identification of active degradation zones in the clay till matrix depended on high resolution subsampling of the clay till cores. The study demonstrates that an integrated approach combining chemical analysis, molecular microbial tools and compound specific isotope analysis (CSIA) was required in order to document biotic and abiotic degradations in the clay till system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Volume146
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Keywords

  • bvcA
  • Chlorinated ethanes
  • Chlorinated ethenes
  • Clay till
  • CSIA
  • Dehalobacter
  • Dehalococcoides
  • Low permeability
  • Reductive dechlorination
  • vcrA

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources

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